The Question

This integrated question is from from the  Official TOEFL iBT Tests Collection  from ETS. You can find the reading and listening content in that book.

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The Sample Essay

          The reading and the lecture are about communal online encyclopedias, which are unique because they can be revised and edited by anyone in the world. The author of the reading argues that they are less reliable than traditional printed encyclopedias. The professor casts doubt on each of the criticisms made by the author.

          To begin with, the author notes that such encyclopedias are edited by individuals without academic credentials. He feels that this means their contributions are sometimes inaccurate or ill-informed. The professor challenges this point. He asserts that even traditional encyclopedias are not perfectly accurate. Moreover, he says that when errors appear in printed books, they remain in them for years, unlike error in online sources which can be quickly corrected.

          Secondly, the author claims that vandals and hackers have opportunities to include false information in online encyclopedias, or to corrupt and vandalize correct information. He feels that unsuspecting users have no way of detecting when this has occurred. The professor casts doubt on these claims. He draws attention to the fact that the administrators of online encyclopedias have methods of protecting their content. He says that they have special editors who watch all changes and revert those which are obviously malicious.

          Finally, the author points out that communal reference works tend to focus on topics which are trivial or unimportant. This can create a false impression of which topics are important and which are not. The lecturer, in contrast, says that because online encyclopedias have unlimited space they are free to cover a wide variety of topics. He argues that just because a considerable number of articles are written about popular topics, we should not assume that academic topics are not being represented.


This is a sample TOEFL integrated essay written by a native speaker.  It follows our master guide  for TOEFL integrated essays.  If you find it useful, please remember that we have many more sample essays for you to read!



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